Riyadh, Aug 19 : The Hajj season started on Sunday with the Day of Tarwiyah, the first ritual of the holy pilgrimage, in Mina, a neighbourhood of the Islamic city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, with 1,966,461 pilgrims.

The General Authority for Statistics announced the figure on Saudi Press Agency, with the total number of pilgrims to be announced on the evening of Arafat Day -- the most important Hajj ritual -- on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

To ensure the safety of pilgrims, a comprehensive security and safety plan has been set up to transport people between ritual sites.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry announced another plan to protect the well-being of pilgrims with the allocations of 25 hospitals and 155 health centres at all sites with a capacity of 5,000 beds, 180 ambulances and 100 vehicles which were converted into ICU mobile units.

 

Let the Truth be known. If you read VB and like VB, please be a VB Supporter and Help us deliver the Truth to one and all.



Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.